A women gets pregnant when a man’s sperm reaches an egg and fertilises it. Male contraceptives prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm from reaching the egg. Currently available methods either put a barrier between the sperm and the vagina (for example the condom) or prevent sperm from coming out of the penis (for example the vasectomy). In the future, there may also be contraceptive methods for men which stop the production of sperm.
Using a male condom
Condoms are one of the most commonly used contraceptives. The male condom is not only highly effective in preventing pregnancy, it is also one of the few contraceptives which protect against sexually transmitted diseases. In order to work well, the condom needs to be used correctly. It is essential that you use the correct size and that you put it on without damaging it. Be careful when you open the pack and avoid using scissors or other sharp objects. When you have put the condom on, make sure you squeeze the air out of the top, this reduces the risk of the condom ripping later on.
Most condoms are made out of latex and they perish if they are exposed to heat. Always check the expiry date before you use a condom.
Who can undergo a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a permanent contraceptive method for men. It is a minor surgical procedure during which the tubes which connect the testicles with the penis are severed. As a result, sperm can not reach the penis. The man’s ejaculate subsequently no longer contains any sperm, which means that pregnancy is prevented. Depending on the specific technique the surgeon uses, the tubes may be cut or blocked. The operation is often impossible to reverse, which is why vasectomies are not recommended for men who may want to have children later in life.
Vasectomies can take up to 8 weeks to be fully effective. When you have a vasectomy, your doctor will tell you whether you need to continue using an additional method of contraception for a while. You will also attend a check-up to assess whether the operation was successful. After the operation, you may experience pain and swelling of your scrotum. In some cases, men have reported ongoing pain in their testicles after the procedure.
Is there a male contraceptive pill?
There is currently no contraceptive pill for men but scientists are working on a range of new contraceptives for men. For more information about current research read our article about the male contraceptive pill